Slide Show: Student Loan Tips & Helpful Resources


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With US student loan debt now greater than total credit card debt, new graduates need to take their monthly payments seriously and form good repayment habits early on. Managing student loans can be tricky at first, but with a little guidance, you can learn to balance your loans and other responsibilities. By doing some research into different loan repayment plans and taking a hard look at your income and spending, you can find a solid solution to managing monthly payments. Here are a few helpful tips and some additional resources to help you with your student loans.

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Slide Show: Student Loan Tips & Helpful Resources

  1. 1. Create a student loan checklist that lists all of your student loans. A blank form is available at Put all of your paperwork for each loan in its own file folder labeled with the lender name, date borrowed, original loan balance and loan id. Put a note in your calendar at least a week before your first payment is due. There are four main types of federal student loan repayment plans: Standard Repayment (10-year term), Extended Repayment (10- to 30-year term), Income-Based Repayment (payments based on income) and Graduated Repayment (low payments are increased every two years). Either income-based repayment or extended repayment will yield the lowest monthly payment.
  2. 2. One quarter to one third of borrowers are late or delinquent on the very first payment on their student loans. Most student loans have a six-month grace period before repayment begins. Students often move after graduation, losing track of bills. The loan payment is due even if you do not receive a statement or coupon book. Be sure to notify the lender about any changes in address or contact information. Borrowers who consolidate their federal student loans are more likely to pay on time, with less than one fifth missing the first payment, in part because the first payment is due soon after consolidation. Set up an automatic direct debit from your checking account to make the monthly payments on the loans. Borrowers with auto- debit are much less likely to miss a payment. Many lenders offer discounts for borrowers who set up auto-debit. Federal loans offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction while private student loans often offer a 0.25% or 0.50% interest rate reduction for the remainder of the repayment period. Some lenders will require electronic billing to get the discount.
  3. 3. Student loans do not have prepayment penalties. Making an extra payment can save you money. After you make the requirement payments, direct any extra money toward accelerating repayment of the most expensive debt first. The most expensive debt is the debt with the highest interest rate, not the lowest monthly payment. Usually this is credit card debt and private student loans. Paying an extra $100 on a 10% loan is like earning 10% interest, tax-free, and may save you more than $200 over the life of the loan depending on the type of loan. Start with a descriptive budget, where you track and categorize all spending for a month. Record the spending each night in a spreadsheet or a program like Quicken or Microsoft Money (or a free version like or Distinguish mandatory spending (needs) from discretionary spending (wants) and classify your spending into broad expense categories such as food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, transportation, taxes, student loans, entertainment. Also generate subtotals by vendor to identify excessive spending. If your total mandatory spending exceeds your total income, you have a serious problem that cannot be solved just by controlling discretionary spending. You may need to switch repayment plans or get a second job on weekends. If your total income exceeds your total mandatory spending, you can get your budget under control by eliminating some discretionary spending. Try substituting lower cost options, such as living with your parents to save on rent, cut luxuries like cable TV and cell phone service, and sell extra belongings. Avoid credit cards, as spending $500 on a credit card feels the same as spending $5, so it is harder to exercise restraint when you pay with plastic.
  4. 4. • FinAid’s Student Loans Section • FinAid’s Student Loan Calculators • Forgot Your Lender? Ask your college’s financial aid administrator or visit • Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project • Federal Student Loan Consolidation 1-800-557-7392 or TTY 1-800-557-7395 • Private Student Loan Consolidation • US Department of Education’s Debt Collection Service and Default Resolution Group 1-800-621-3115 or TTY 1-877-825-9923 • Federal Student Aid Ombudsman The FSA Ombudsman mediates disputes and helps resolve problems concerning federal student loans. 1-877-557-2575 or fax 1-202-275-0549 • Private Student Loan Ombudsman The PSL Ombudsman mediates disputes and helps resolve problems concerning private student loans. 1-855-411-CFPB (2372) or fax 1-855-237-2392 • Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 1-319-337-5665 1-800-730-8913 TTY
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